Every week the need to be discoverable online grows. In 2020, 90% of consumers used the internet to find a local business. 33% of consumers look at local businesses online every day, which is up from 27% in 2019.
Having a strong online presence through business reviews can have a major impact on maintaining or bringing in customers. Here’s our guide to understanding the importance of Google Reviews and how to use them:
What are Google Reviews and why do they matter?
For customers, leaving a Google review is a way to express their thoughts on their customer experience with a company. Google Reviews are made up of a star rating and a written comment, though not all reviews require a comment. If you have a photo that exemplifies your experience or adds context to the review, you can add that, too.
For businesses, Google Reviews are a marketing tool. When a customer is searching for your business, your company’s Google Reviews will pop up. In a competitive world, customers are very discerning about who they do business with. They want to read through reviews so they understand the type of experience they’ll get from you.
So, how do you make sure people are seeing your Google My Business Listing?
If you want your listing to appear when people are searching for products or services you provide, Google has special criteria to consider. Reviews are just one of the things Google is looking at to determine your ranking.
You might think, “maybe I can skip the reviews and just pay to appear at the top of Google Maps!”
Although your business may be paying for advertising, customers are becoming increasingly ad-adverse (well, to low-quality ads, like those appearing on Google Maps). Statista released a study within the last month claiming that in 2020 alone, 73 million internet users installed an ad-blocking software tool, plugin, or browser. This is not to say that ads are not ever successful, but that online reviews may have a greater influence on consumers.
Google Reviews are also important because they have a considerable effect on revenue and rankings. Good reviews help you stand out from the crowd by increasing your business’ ranking, creating brand trust, online exposure, and increasing click-through rates, and driving local SEO. According to BrightLocal, 91% of people age 18 to 34 trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation.
How to Get More Google Reviews
When it comes to Google Reviews, quantity can be greater than quality. Of course, no business owner likes to see negative reviews, but this is a valuable opportunity for growth. Google’s algorithm also takes into account the number of reviews your company has. A small handful of reviews are significantly better than no reviews at all.
While it seems like a no-brainer that customers are influenced by negative reviews, they are also equally influenced by positive reviews. It may not seem favorable, but simply having a hefty chunk of reviews regardless of if they are positive or negative is the way to go. According to BrightLocal, local businesses have an average of 39 reviews on Google. However, businesses that appear in Google’s top 3 local positions average 47 reviews, nearly ten more than normal.
The truth of the matter is that most people don’t leave reviews; WebstieBuilder claims that 5 to 10 percent of consumers write reviews. Yet, Google rewards businesses that receive a constant flow of reviews by placing them higher up in search results based on their algorithm. Therefore, it’s important to encourage your business’ customers to leave a review.
How to Optimize your Google Reviews
One of the easiest ways to get more reviews is to simply ask. Sometimes, you have to lay it all out for your customers so they can see how easy it is to leave a review. Follow these three simple steps to get more reviews:
- ask for a review
- show them how to leave one
- send a follow-up or two reminding them to leave a review
Start by asking a customer to leave a review. You can either set up an automated email that asks for a review along with the bill or once you’ve completed a job and are sending a follow-up. Another option would be to tell the customer in person. Consider asking the last customer you interacted with or ask when you’re done with a positive phone conversation.
If you’re sending an email with a review request, include a brief description of how to leave a review. The reality is that leaving a review is easy; any customer with a Google account can leave a review. Simply search for the business on Google, click “write a review”, and start typing! As an added bonus, you can tell truthfully them that leaving a review takes less than five minutes.
There are also review management software platforms available that can automate the process with personalized outreach. It saves a lot of time and can integrate with your existing Point-of-Sale system.
Why You Should Interact With Reviews
While having many Google reviews will help your business increase its local rankings, your business should respond to those reviews to maintain meaningful connections with your customers. It’s important to respond to reviews both good and bad. Your response can tell both new and old customers a lot about your desire to help your customers.
Sometimes, your business may receive fake reviews intended to damage your business’ reputation. These fake reviews may come from spammers, your competitors, or even upset customers that just want to see your business suffer.
The Challenge of Fake Reviews
Unfortunately, fake reviews are difficult to remove, so it’s important to respond to them in a way that points out they are fake. The five ways to spot a fake review are: if it lacks detail, includes lots of verbs, or uses frequent first-person pronouns. If the reviews are extremely negative or if the reviewer is not known to post reviews, this may also be a sign of a fake review.
If a review lacks detail, it may be because the reviewer never used your business’ services or purchased something from your company. Of course, if the review completely misses the mark and begins to talk about dog grooming when your business strictly sells shoes, you know that is a fake review. If it lacks specifics, or specifically points to something irrelevant, you know it’s fake.
If a review has more verbs than concrete nouns, that is a sign to be skeptical. Reviewers tend to want to discuss their experience with certain products or with certain people, meaning they rely heavily on nouns to describe their experience. This method is a bit less easy to spot, so try looking for other criteria when it comes to this, too.
If your reviewer does not have a history of reviews and leaves a particularly negative review, this should be looked into. If they use similar language throughout their reviews or do not have much of an online presence, this could be a sign that they are a scammer. Also, keep an eye on anonymous reviews.
If you believe a review is fake, the next step is to report it to Google. However, Google can be rather strict and at times glacial in removing reviews you think are fake, so responding to the fake review in a timely manner helps point this out to other prospects. Similarly, if someone leaves a positive review, responding to their review expressing how glad you are they have a good experience will influence them to come back to your business as well as influence new customers.
Taking the Next Step
The simple conclusion is that reviews can have a major impact on your business’s success. If you’re not sure where to start and are looking for help, Noble House would love to get you started optimizing your Google Reviews! Get in touch with our team at Noble House through our Contact Us page and schedule a complimentary consultation.